NEW YORK — You may not have heard of Inspire Brands, but chances are you’ve eaten a meal at one of its franchises.
The owner of Sonic Drive-In, Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings is making another addition to its growing restaurant empire: sandwich chain Jimmy John’s.
Inspire said the acquisition of Jimmy John’s will make it the fourth-largest US restaurant company, with more than $14 billion in annual sales across 11,200 restaurants. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“Jimmy John’s is a great fit for the Inspire family,” said Paul Brown, Inspire’s co-founder and CEO. “What started in 1983 as a sandwich shop in a converted garage in Charleston, Illinois, has grown into a national, differentiated brand with a passionate fanbase.”
The company acquired hamburger joint Sonic last year for $2.3 billion.
Inspire Brands, a private equity-backed firm that also owns Rusty Taco, said the agreement was unanimously approved by the Jimmy John’s board of directors, including founder and chairman Jimmy John Liautaud.
At the close of the purchase, which is expected by the end of October, James North will serve as president of the Jimmy John’s brand, and Liautaud will step down as chairman and transition to an adviser role.
Jimmy John’s, which has more than 2,800 locations in 43 states, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.